What’s behind Baig’s criticism of his own CM and government?

Baig, who represents the Baramulla LoK Sabha constituency of North Kashmir, has been in the news since the PDP decided to stitch together an alliance with the BJP.

Written by Mir Ehsan | Updated: September 9, 2016 8:51 pm
Muzaffar Hussain Baig at a press confrence at Multi Party Dialogue on the Political Future of J K in New Delhi on Saturday express photo by amit mehra 071109 *** Local Caption *** Muzaffar Hussain Baig speaks at the ''Multi Party Dialogue on the Political Future of J'' + char(38) +''K'', in New Delhi on Saturday.EXPRESS PHOTO BY AMIT MEHRA 071109 Muzaffar Hussain Baig EXPRESS PHOTO BY AMIT MEHRA

One of the senior most and a founding member of the J&K People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Muzaffar Hussain Baig has asked Mehbooba Mufti to quit as chief minister in case the PDP and BJP fail to deliver on the ground. Baig acknowledges that the state government has failed to deliver and that the party cadres are annoyed with its policies.

After Tariq Karra, MP Srinagar, Baig is the second senior PDP leader who has openly admitted that the PDP’s cadres are disgruntled. Baig says that the coalition partners have failed to implement the agenda of the alliance; Karra has held that the alliance could never work on the ground as it wasn’t based on principles or the wishes of their respective cadres.

Baig, who represents the Baramulla LoK Sabha constituency of North Kashmir, has been in the news since the PDP decided to stitch together an alliance with the BJP. Initially, Baig and J&K’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu who promoted the alliance, giving reasons to the party top brass of the benefits from an alliance with the BJP.

Baig even held the first round of parleys with the BJP leadership over the formation of an alliance. Later, he was sidelined and Drabu was given the go ahead to take the talks to their logical conclusion. Once the alliance was formed and Mufti Sayeed took over as chief minister last year, Baig went into oblivion as Drabu hogged the lime light.

Since then, Baig has been giving contradictory statements, sometimes praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership, sometimes times criticizing the state government. A deputy chief minister of the state when the PDP and Congress were running a coalition government (2002-08), he feels that he could play a big role in the state politics but has been deliberately sidelined. Karra had also been given an important portfolio in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad cabinets.

After Mufti’s death, Baig along with Karra were actively involved in the affairs of the PDP. After Mehbooba took over as the first woman chief minister of the state in April, Karra maintained his distance from the party leadership and began to openly criticise the government and its policies.

Baig and Karra feel the present ministers in Mehbooba’s cabinet are inexperienced politicians who don’t know the nitty-gritty of politics, especially vis-à-vis Kashmir. Both had wanted the party to assign them a “big role” either at the Centre or in state politics but that hasn’t happen so far. Most of the PDP’s leaders believe that the two men are playing politics – not for the party but for themselves.